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and a good sunday afternoon to you, you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. just two days until the next presidential debate, 23 days until voters around this country go to the polls, to pick the next president and that's also when voters in more than three dozen states will vote on some 174 ballot propositions. coming up, how will those
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potential wedge issues impact the top of the ticket. we'll talk about it. but we want to start with breaking news, former senator arlen specter of pennsylvania, a figure on the national political stage for some 30 years is dead at 82. the cause? complications from nonhodgkins lymphoma. he was known for, among other things, his influential presence on the senate judiciary committee, his reputation as a centrist and the late-party switch from a republican to a democrat. president obama released a statement saying arlen specter was always a fighter, from his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in philadelphia, to his three decades of service in the senate. arlen was fiercely independent, never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chose ton serve. he brought the same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others.
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joining me on the phone, andrea mitchell, nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent and andrea, i understand that the senator reached out to you just a few weeks ago? >> he reached out to me, craig we've known each over since the late '60s when was a young reporter in philadelphia. he reached out to me after all of those covering him through thick and thin and he bouts of illness and ups and downs in politics. he wanted to do one last interview. he wanted his legacy to be support for nih, for the national institutes of health. he was known for so many things his leadership on the intelligence committee. on judiciary, his fights against robert bork and in favor of clarence thomas, controversial one fight, the bork fight angering conservatives. some for a lifetime against him. the clarence thomas fight, his tough prosecution really as a
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cross-examiner of anita hill, angering liberals. to all of that consistently, especially because of his illnesses, he had really reported stem-cell research, alzheimer's research, breast cancer research, funding for nih. that's whey wanted to talk about in the last interview, but then it turned out that he and his family realized he wasn't up to doing another interview. he knew he had very little time left and he basically was conserving his strength as he lost the final battle. and as you know, he had two previous bouts with hodgkins lymphoma. he overcome a brain tumor, survived cardiac arrest after his bypass surgery. he was such a fighter, scrappy in politics, a fierce competitor on the squash court and he was controversial. because he was a contrarian. he had angered liberals and democrats, twice switched parties, once at the beginning of his political career. left the democratic party to
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become a republican to run against his former boss, the then-district attorney of philadelphia, a democrat, in 1965. and angered a lot of people, including his former boss. but won the first bat until 1965 to become the only republican office holder in a democratic town. >> our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell who covered arlen specter for decades, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon we do appreciate your time. right now we bring in someone who knew senator spector from pennsylvania politics and former democratic congressman, joe sestak. >> nice to be with you. >> here's a man who supports a woman's right to choose, who voted to repeal don't ask don't tell. who also voted in support of the president's stimulus bill, which many say that sort of markeded end of his stint as a republican. will his legacy be his
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moderation? >> i don't think that will be the best legacy for arlen spector. i think andrea mitchell brought up what i think is his standard. no one else in pennsylvania politics has ever i cheeved, nor do i think they will. his positive impact on american families, across the united states. nih, i can tell you a personal story, craig. and that happens to thousands of other families. my daughter was struck with malignant brain cancer and she went to nih as we did as a young family. and she went on a stage ii study there. where they were still trying to develop a certain drug. she's hera at 11, going on 22 because of arlen specter. that's the legacy that arlen specter left behind. there's nobody in pennsylvania who has had a greater impact and has such duration, as that man it was an honor to have been in the arena with arlen spector. >> what about his impact on the
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senate judiciary committee. as andrew said, famous for angering conservatives in the robert bork hearings and angering liberalses with his examination of anita hill in the collaros thomas hearing. >> i didn't always agree with arlen specter. except with how he approached issues. i remember him saying except for a senate vote to go to war, the next to most important vote that you can mai make is for who's going to be on the supreme court. because it so impacts america. but the importance of arlen spector is he always did what was right, regardless of party for the american people. he knew that his vote for that economic stimulus bill was going to harm his career. and he did it. he did it and stood up for pennsylvanians and this great united states of ours. i think above anything else that's why he's going to be remembered. he did what so few do. he not only ran for office, he
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did something for it. with it for americans. >> you've of course, you ran against him in a democratic primary in 2010, you won what will his legacy for the state of pennsylvania be. >> the legacy is always going to be that i don't think anybody is probably ever going to reach. nobody has even come close. that he would always stand for what's pragmatically and in the common sense needs of the pennsylvanians. that's what he stood for. party didn't matter for him. and you know what, the mark of a man is? you know i remember when the election was over that night, the results were in and he called me and he said, joe, congratulations. i'm going to be supporting you tomorrow. i mean, he knew what was important in life. and he just continued on, and i got to tell you, craig, i thought i was a hard worker. i'll tell you, i have never been in a campaign or anything where i had to work so hard as i did
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with him. somebody once asked me as i was getting up earlier and going to bed later -- are you enjoying it? >> and i said, if you call enjoyment what john f. kennedy called it, applying all your faculties to to excellence, yes, i'm enjoying it. because arlen specter is making me work my backside off. he fought for pennsylvanians and that's what he was all about. >> admiral and former congressman, joe sestak, thank you so much for sharing your memories today, i do appreciate your time, sir. >> thank you. joining me now michael smekanis and msnbc contributor bill schneider and analyst and professor of public policy and joy reed, msnbc contributor, also managing editor of the grio.com. before we get to the politics of the day, michael, you knew the late senator arlen specter, you knew him well, we found this picture of you and him a that i want to put on the screen. this is -- can you i don't know
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if you can see this picture there. what year, about what year do you think this is? >> that was 19d 86. you can see i still had hair. so did he. >> and the context, craig is that i was running the city of philadelphia. for his 1986 re-election effort. my relationship with him goes back 30 years. >> what will his legacy be there in pennsylvania, snir. >> what i think of a numb of things, too much for this segment. but his intellect, he was the smartest individual within or outside of the political world that i'd ever come in contact with. i mean he was absolutely brilliant. had an uncanny memory, i could tell stories with levels of detail that were second to none. his ethics were beyond reproach. i was listening to admiral sestak talk about how he might not always have agreed with arlen spector. nobody ever agreed with arlen spector all the time. he angered all of us at some point, about you had to admire
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the way his ethics and his intellect approached the job. and also his strength. that would be the third thing that comes to mind. he was battling nonhodgkins lymphoma, undergoing chemotherapy and never missed any of those hearings. an iron backbone is what the man had. >> let's turn to the campaign trail now. mitt romney in boston today, under new scrutiny of his leadership as governor of massachusetts. this is according to "the new york times." romney spent more than year of his four-year term out of the state on personal and political trips unrelated to the job. no secret he was running for president. but given his own emphasis on his leadership as governor, joy, is this news, is it problematic for him? or is this something that we're not talking about two or three days from now? >> it's hard to know what's problematic for mitt romney. i think what it does reinforce is the sense that personal ambition is the only true ideology that we can discern in mitt romney. in a sense he's done whatever he
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needed to do to get to the next step. the fact that he wanted to be president and he saw massachusetts to be an easier state to win than utah, it seems clear that he used being governor of massachusetts not for its own sake but as a stepping stone to the white house. >> he's not even competing in massachusetts, he's 30 points behind. >> that was something joe biden brought up in the vice presidential debate. >> paul ryan was trying to praise romney's career as governor in massachusetts. and biden said, wait a minute he's not even competing there, he can't carry his own state. and the republicans have been making a lot about his bipartisanship. he was able to get along with the democratic legitimate slate stur. the democrats in the legislate stur were far more cooperative with the republican governor than the republicans are today with the democratic president. >> let's turn to the state we can't seem to talk enough about, ohio, the buckeye state. both candidates doing anything
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they can to win over specifically michael smerkonish, working-class voters in ohio. for romney, that's about calling out obama for being weak on china, this is yesterday. >> we're going to do this, we're going to make sure when people cheat and china has been cheating, we're not going to let it go on. i'm not going to pass it off. on day one i will label china a currency manipulator and we're going to get serious when we make sure that people don't cheat when it comes to trade. >> is that a message that's going to resonate object a national level, mike? >> i think it's a message that's going to resonate between the gop base. the same way that benghazi is an issue that resonates within the gop base. i'm not so sure it has the appeal it requires to reach however many centrists might be left in ohio. to make up their minds. >> or undecided voters left in ohio. >> so the obama campaign puts out a statement pushing back
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essentially calling the romney campaign a bunch of hypocrits. this is an excerpt of that statement. mitt romney called the president's aggressive action on behalf of american tire workers decidedly bad for the nation and as a corporate buy-out specialists he invested in companies that were pioneers to outsourcing to low-wage companies like china. is that a counterargument that's going to reach ears of voters in ohio? >> i think the outsourcing argument or the obama campaign could have been made that even simpler. mitt romney as a guy who ran an equity firm, bayin capital, engaged in outsourcing of jobs. he has a company that's all over twitter right now, that he is currently still invested or still profiting from a company who is in the process of outsourcing jobs. think outsourcing is more powerful than the auto bailout in ohio. >> the auto bailout is crucial. a lot of the ohio voters work for general motors, the reason
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why ohio is tilting towards obama and romney cannot be elected without ohio. >> one has to thimpb that come wednesday, come the first wednesday in november if golf romney loses ohio. i think if his comments on a bailout will do him in. thanks to my panelists for sharing your thoughts on the late arlen spector as well. coming up, where we have come since the war on drugs, how far we've come. as we know it. today, later we hear from an obama adviser on what the president plans to do on tuesday with regards to his debate strategy. first, is mitt romney changing his message on the stump. we'll pose the question to a republican strategist.
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our political headlines, president obama and governor romney are both holed up and hunkered done, getting ready for tuesday's big dae bait. their surrogates and spokespeople are out in full force, putting forth their views on the tightening polls. >> as i've said even when the polls were wildly positive for us, that these public polls are all over the place. and the reality of the race on the ground is that we're ahead, it's a little bit narrower than it was before the last debate. but we feel good about where we are and we've got a great ground game going. >> i think the race is very close. i think the wind is at governor romney's back and there's
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momentum you can see on the trail, you can see it in the data. but the country is pretty evenly divide and we've always felt this was going to be a close election. a close race. i knew that when we were behind in the polls, i know it now that we're ahead in the polls, but i believe that momentum is clearly on governor romney's side. >> look at how close this has become at the national level. a new gallup poll of registered voters gives the president a slim two-point edge. but when gallup looked at likely voters, mitt romney has the lead, lead of two points, 49-47 more on all of the stories throughout the next two hours. again as we mentioned, president obama hunkered down for the second straight day. prepping for his rematch with mitt romney. kristen welker is with the president in williamsburg, virginia, what's going on behind closed doors there? >> good afternoon, craig, well obama campaign advisers say the president is his own worst critic. he knows he has to deliver a
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more energized, passionate performance if he wants to win this second debate after his first debate. which a lot of folks described as lackluster. that's what he's working on here at debate camp. he got started at about 10:00 a.m. this morning, sparring with debate partner, senator john kerry, has a lot of advisers, reading through materials and watching tape of mitt romney, working on delivering shorter, sharper, crisper answers to some of mitt romney's criticisms of his policies. he headed to the obama campaign headquarters here in williamsburg, shook some hands, made some phone calls, when he was asked how debate prep is going, he said it's going great. mitt romney hard at work in the boston area. his goal is to match the strong performance that he had two weeks ago. craig? >> debate camp. i like that, kristen welker, traveling with the president in williamsburg, virginia. mitt romney, refining his message to the american voters
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on why he is the best choice for president. joining me from washington, d.c. to talk about that, that new, improved message, mercedes schlapp, a mitt romney supporter and an rnc surrogate, and mercedes, good afternoon to you. >> most governors have traveled when they were in office. governor romney traveled a lot. "new york times" piece out today saying he was out of state for things like when the big dig roof collapsed, killing the 38-year-old woman, when the state legislature came to its own deal on his proposal to overhaul the state health care system, he was out of town for that as well. how is the governor explaining these absences? >> this is such a hypocritical piece in the sense that we have a very successful record by governor romney as governor. when you look at his record, he was able to lower the unemployment down to 4.7%. having the best job creation in the state of massachusetts.
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massachusetts schools were number one by the time he left. he was able to get a $3 billion deficit, convert it into a $2 billion surplus. all of that with working with democrats. so i think you look at scrutinize his successful record as governor and compare it to president obama's failed policies. where his, the economy is still stagnant. where we're not seeing enough jobs being created. and really, i would go with governor romney. >> let's move on here to the message on the stump. we don't have a lot of time today. governor romney made no mention of his much-touted 20% tax cut at his campaign rally in yoi head. t let's talk about it on the other side. >> you paid 14% in federal taxes. that's the capital gains rate. is that fair to the guy who makes $50,000 and paid a higher rate than you did? you think it is fair? >> yeah i think it's the right
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way to encourage economic growth. >> it's a simple ad, is the ad encouraging the campaign to take the issue off the table. >> a simple ad that they seem to have cut out certain parts of the interview. as you know the ad is misleading. what we do know is that governor romney's economic plan is a pro growth plan, you look at independent studies, they say it would stimulate the economy by broadening the base as well as keeping it revenue-neutral. thoughs are ingredients for a successful economic plan. oppose it to president obama, where his plan is urt hurting the middle class and small business, we're talking an average of $4,000 tax hike for middle class families, as well as -- >> mercedes, i don't mean to interrupt you. you mention this plan. i've got to gibring up a joint committee on taxation, it is to taxes what the cbo is to the budget. if says even if you eliminate just about every loophole there
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is you can only reduce rates by 4%. governor romney says he's going to reduce them by 20%. the numbers don't add up. >> by cutting, if we're able to add more jobs to the economy, which as we know, governor romney's plan would add 12 million new jobs by the first term. that of course creates more tax revenue. in essence, you have more revenue that could be used in the government. so what we're looking at is -- >> by the way, just -- the 12 million figure that you guys like to use, economists have said if no one does anything, 12 million jobs are going to be added over the next few years. to say that 12 million jobs is an incredible achievement. >> i would say it's incredible when you look at president obama's current stagnant economy, when you're only seeing the gdp growing at 1.2%. and less than 114,000 jobs are being created a month. i mean it's just been, the way president obama has worked, where he's not been able to work with congress, not been able to
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provide the leadership to really get this economy going. just shows he has a failed policy that hasn't worked. we're seeing that medium household incomes have dropped. not enough jobs, jobs are not being created at the rate they should be created. under his plan, it would cost 700,000 jobs. that's not the plan we need to have for america for a real recovery. >> i did want to ask you about the hispanic outreach effort. but i want to any that you did not answer my question about the joint committee on taxation's, their report and how the numbers don't add up. we'll get to it next time. hopefully you'll come back and join us. >> would love that. >> thank you, mercedes schlapp. we'll be talking to a top adviser with president obama's campaign coming up. coming up in case you hadn't heard, he did it he jumped from 128,000 feet above the planet. what happened after that? more on that, straight ahead. you're watching msnbc. ♪
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there it is, an unbelievable and death-defying jump. extreme athlete felix balm gart ner landed in mexico a short time ago after free falling 23 miles from the edge of spacof s. we know he's maded world's highest sky dive, he broke the sky diving record. we'll keep you up to date on that time for our trail mix. where the vice president's frequent laughter during his debate with congressman paul ryan is making for a whole new round of laughs. leave it to "saturday night live" to take vice president biden's performance up a few notches. >> i want to thank center college for hosting us this evening. >> oh boy, here we go oh man. >> four years ago, president obama made a promise.
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[ laughter ] >> that he would bring down unemployment below 6%. >> this guy, i mean -- >> he said but by the end of his first term, he would cut the deficit in half. [ laughter ] >> vice president can take some solace in this, he's getting support from the actress who plays the role of vice president on the hbo show, "veep" julia louis-dreyfuss tweeting, go, biden, go. the one thing he's got going for him is a bigger flag pin. he's been pastor to presidents for more than six decades, what role will billy graham play in mitt romney's bid for the white house this time around? up next, we'll also be asking the man who is one of the key strategists on john kerry's presidential bid. how the massachusetts senator is helping the president prepare for round two with mitt romney. you're watching msnbc. the place for politics. many people are struggling with issues related to mental health.
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breaking news, we're tracking, former senator arlen specter of pennsylvania, dead today at the age of 82. the cause? complications from nonhodgkins lymphoma. senator specter held office for 30 years, making a major impact on the shape of u.s. supreme court in the process. also establishing himself as one of the centrists in the senate. 2009, he switched parties and became a democrat. more on his legacy in our next hour. back to the presidential race for now. the romney and obama teams are each scrambling to tip the direction of the election in their favor. voters 65 and older exit polls from 2008 show the president with 45% of the 65 and older vote. john mccain, 53%.
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the senior demographic has a tendency to favor the republicans, but the obama team is making a play for their support as vice president biden made clear thursday night. >> folks, use your common sense. who do you trust on this? a man who introduced a bill that would raise it $6400 a year, knowing it and passing it and romney saying you sign it or me and the president. >> joining me now, mark murray, senior political editor for nbc news, good afternoon, sir. >> hey, craig. >> this is the nbc/"wall street journal" poll, showing the president leading every age group except for seniors, i think we've got the numbers up. you're familiar with those numbers, any chance for him this time around. >> probably not. they want to try to minimize their losses. that's what you ended up playing the bite from vice president
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biden and the debate. all about medicare. ever since mitt romney put paul ryan as his vice presidential running mate, democrats in the obama ticket have been running on medicare. the ryan/romney budget when it comes to medicare, only impacts future seniors, not current ones. but the democrats are trying to muddy the waters. as you mentioned the exit polls showed in 2008 that president obama lost the seniors if they do that this time, that's good news for romney. >> 174 different propositions will be on the ballot election day. the most since 2006, same-sex marriage, marijuana, health care, a handful of the initiatives to be voted on. are these initiatives telling us anything about what's on voters' minds? >> it certainly the big ones that are on my radar screen, craig, are gay marriage, they are marijuana legalization.
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not really big, big subjects as it receipts to the presidential race. in fact you haven't heard mitt romney or barack obama certainly talk about marijuana legalization much in any of the presidential debates or even in their town halls or rallies. but it is interesting that there is is a marijuana legalization on the ballot in the battleground state of colorado, which you can make the argument that young people who might favor democrats, that might get them out to the polls, there's also an abortion measure in the battleground state of florida, which would ban public funds for abortions and that you could make the argument that that that's exactly to rally social conservatives to vote for the republican ticket. those are the two to watch as it relates to the presidential contest in the battleground states. >> our senior political editor, thank you. campaign straj bretegy brea. the so-called message wars may be about to get truly frenzied.
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"the wall street journal" reports if you live in a battleground state, brace yourself. another couple hundred million dollars in ad spending is about to rain down in your living room. with me now, steve almendorf and republican strategist, joe watkins. >> joe, let me start with you. have the campaigns entered the new phase like "the wall street journal" suggests? are we in closing argument time? if so, what does it mean for both of these campaigns? >> we are in closing argument time, that's not much time left. both campaigns have to work hard to get their message out to voters, what's important for mitt romney, as well as for president obama is getting the folks that are likely to vote for him to show up at the polls and vote on election day, you've got to make sure that the likely voters are the ones that gets the out that you want to get out. >> one of the commercials at the journal predicted the romney campaign out with a new ad highlighting vice president
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biden's behavior in that debate. >> don't raise taxes on small businesses because they're our job creators, leaders run to problems to fix problems. >> the romney campaign betting on independent voters not liking biden's laughter there. is the jury still out on this thing, steve. >> i think the jury is done, i think the debate was great, i think joe biden did a good job. i think the campaign moves fast and we're all about tuesday night. and the debate between obama and romney. i think the closing arguments are coming. i think the closing arguments have to happen probably a month ahead of time. a poll i saw the other day about the large percentage of people who have voted already. in lots of different states, it's a rolling closing argument. >> especially in ohio, we haven't talked about this a great deal, steve. you know in ohio, we've started to get some numbers about early voting there it appears as if based on early voting.
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the president has quite a huge lead in the buckeye state. no? >> yes. that's one of the reasons why i think his lead is holding up there. he started out, they have a ground game, the obama campaign because they didn't have a primary, has put together an aggressive operation in every state that is in play and they've been running very aggressive early vote and absentee vote plans and that's going to help them when we get down to election day. it will be a close race. >> joe, he mentioned the ground game. that's something else we don't talk a great deal about. one of the concerns that some strategists have expressed with regards to the romney campaign is the president obviously didn't have a primary. a lot of these campaign offices have been in place since he ran for years ago. a lot of the volunteers, a lot of the data has been data that he's been able to assemble for years now. governor romney didn't have that advantage, how much is that going to hurt him here in the final weeks? >> well, i think governor romney has the challenge of getting his team to get out there and get the message out. especially do undecides, the few
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that are left out there. we see how close the race is and obviously you've got to impact people who haven't made a decision yet. you know that americans have short memories. you know what matters is the first tuesday in november and what they do. the romney campaign will be focused on getting people to do the right thing, that is the right thing for mitt romney and vote for him in november. >> this is david axelrod from this morning talking about adjustments that the president is making ahead of the debate on tuesday, take a listen. nobody is a harsher critic than the president is himself. and you viewed the tape he's going it make some adjustments on tuesday, we saw governor romney sort of serially walk away from his own proposals and certainly the president is going to be willing to challenge him. on it as we saw the vice president challenge paul ryan. >> play debate coach here for
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me, steve. what are you telling the president right now? >> i think the president has to go out on tuesday and show kpo competing visions for where the country needs to go the next four years. two competing sets of values about where the country needs to go. he needs to be aggressive about both projecting his vision and about showing that mitt romney's vision is wrong. >> how aggressive can he be? >> calling romney on it. >> how aggressive can he be? the president of the united states can't say, governor romney, you're a liar. but short of that, what can he do? what should he be doing? >> i think he can be very aggressive. you don't need to be aggressive because the facts are on his side and he just needs to make it clear when governor romney tells something that's not true. or tries to change his positions, which he seems to be doing as we get close to the election. >> i think the big challenge for president obama. president obama is an excellent debater. i think he'll do well with this town hall format. you think he'll be very strong. i think the challenge he faces this time opposed to last time
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is he has a record to defend and on the one hand you can be aggressive in going after the challenge for the presidency. but on the other hand, you have to defend the fact that 23,000 americans aren't working. >> steve bif let you get out of here, are you were john kerry's campaign manage anywhere 2004. do you think he feels partly responsible for how mediocre the president's performance was first time around? >> i doubt it. i think john kerry is uniquely qualified to play the sparring partner. having watched mitt romney up close and having been in a lot of presidential debates. at the end of the day, the candidates have to get up on the stage and barack obama will admit, he didn't have his best night. but i think we want our politicians to be super human or our presidents to be super human and they're like everybody else. i don't think the president is going to have an off night tuesday, he'll have a great night tuesday. >> steve, joe, thank you so much
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for spending some dime with us on this sunday. >> still to come, 23 days left, we will talk about why the next eight are most critical in the race for the white house. first we florida flash back to the '80s, for a time when the first lady nancy reagan was associated with just one phrase. you're watching msnbc. these fellas used capital one venture miles for a golf getaway. double miles you can actually use... but mr. single miles can't join his friends because he's getting hit with blackouts. shame on you. now he's stuck in a miniature nightmare. oh, thank you. but, with the capital one venture card... you can fly any airline, any flight, any time. double miles you can actually use. what's in your wallet? alec jr? it was a gift.
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that's what it looks and sounds like when you set fire to more than 26 tons of illegal drugs. the bonfire set outside the afghan capital. the drugs were seized in and around kabul over the past nine months. that leads us to today's flashback. for that we go back to the time when you heard this phrase around every corner. >> say yes to your life, and when it comes to drugs and alcohol, just say no. >> the just say no campaign was
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a product of the escalation of the war on drugs, which president ronald rag eagan announced 30 years ago today. here's how the announcement was reported on "nbc nightly news." >> the time has come to cripple the power of the mob in america. >> there will be 13 regional task forces with more prosecutors and investigators. >> as many as 700 more fbi and drug enforcement agents will be hired. there will be more computers, more money for prisons. the whole thing will cost about $200 million. and a polished presentation, complete with press briefings before and after, the president announced he would fight organized crime with a presidential fact-finding commission, a cabinet level committee. a state governor's project and training for local police at federal facilities, a press release said the president was launching an unprecedented federal effort to choke off drug trafficking and shatter organized crime. that sort of thing has been said before. for example, the nixon
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administration declared that organized crime would be destroyed by 1974. >> did you catch the number, they said the war on drugs would cost $200 million. $200 million. three decades later, we spend about $20 billion to $25 billion every year to fight drugs there's also a human cost. more than half of the federal prisoners are behind bars for drug offenses in state prisons, it's one in five and more than a quarter of all women in state prisons are serving drug sentences. coming up, can mitt romney court a particular pocket of voters in this contest to win the commonwealth of virginia, we'll talk about it, you're watching msnbc. ♪ [ female announcer ] pop in a whole new kind of clean. with tide pods.
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today we take a close look at battleground virginia and the
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role that religion could play in the commonwealth. evangelicals make up the largest religious group in the state, 31%. traditional protestants, 20%. the numbers are right there. joining me now, a distinguished professor of government in virginia beach, virginia. back with us, bill schneider. the romney campaign paying a lot of attention to conservative christians. thursday, the governor met with the reverend billy graham in north carolina. graham offered his support to the romney ticket. is this simply shoring up the gop base, or is this going to help him gain some new evangelical support? >> well, mitt romney had problems with evangelical voters in the republican primaries. he lost every deep southern state to either newt gingrich or rick santorum. in the general election, the evangelicals are likely to vote for him, principally because they're not going to vote for
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barack obama. >> do you think we see the same enthusiasm and support we've seen from that block over the past two, three cycles? >> i think there are a some who are a bit doubtful because of his mormon affiliation. >> "the boston globe" has a story today on evangelical support for governor romney, even though some tough questions -- some folks still have questions about his religion. you just mentioned it as well, bill. quote, romney is counting on evangelicals. the irony is that this is a shotgun marriage. charles, is there a common goal here that outweighs any issues that may exist between conservative christians and mormons? >> yes, evangelicals who once opposed romney because of his mormon faith have now set that aside. on the whole, they're looking at what they consider the national interests and subjecting their
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religious interests secondarily to that national interest. issues of abortion, homosexuality, homosexual marriage and obamacare are fundamental among them. so evangelicals along with conservative roman catholics are a pivotal voting force. evangelicals together with conservative catholics with make the difference in the state of virginia. >> charles, were you at all concerned last week when the governor said to "the des moines register" that basically if he were elected, there would not be any significant legislation with regards to abortion or women's rights? >> no, that obviously was a political statement. he's moving to run like ronald reagan did as a center right candida candidate. >> charles, you just acknowledged that was essentially pandering, and you're saying that's basically an okay thing. no? did i mishear you?
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>> no, let's look at it this way. bill clinton did that from the left in 1992. he moved from the far left to center left and governed that way. ronald reagan did the same thing from the right. the middle in america governors. it's like a bell curve. most americans are in the middle. you have to appeal to the middle in order to win and then to governor effectively. >> bill, i love it when folks are honest. >> well, yes. he's appealed to the middle and the left and the right and everybody else, mitt romney has. if you want to talk about his position on abortion, he's gotten quite a few of those. >> i'm glad you brought that up. much has been made over that. in fact, the u.s. news and world report put out an excellent piece over the number of different views he's had over his political career. how can we discern what governor romney's actual view on abortion and women's rights, what his actual view is? >> we can't. we can't. they have changed. when he first took office as governor of massachusetts, he said he was pro choice. then he appears to have had a
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sincere conversion to the pro life side, which he so far has maintained, but he said he's not going to sponsor any legislation to stage the status quo on abortion. it's impossible to predict. that's not an issue that ranks very high in his platform. >> charles, bill, thank you both so much. appreciate your time on this sunday. coming up, we'll have more on the death of a political icon. plus -- >> governor romney's plan is to let wall street run wild again, but he's going to bring the hammer down on "sesame street." >> have the big bird lines run their course now? does the president face further political damage on the deadly attack in libya? we'll talk to the obama campaign straight ahead. up next, we'll go back to virginia where a phone bank effort has a double meaning. we'll talk about that. this is msnbc, the place for politics. hi, i'm phil mickelson.
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i've been fortunate to win on golf's biggest stages. but when joint pain and stiffness from psoriatic arthritis hit, even the smallest things became difficult. i finally understood what serious joint pain is like. i talked to my rheumatologist and he prescribed enbrel. enbrel can help relieve pain, stiffness, and stop joint damage. because enbrel, etanercept, suppresses your immune system, it may lower your ability to fight infections. serious, sometimes fatal events including infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma, other cancers, and nervous system and blood disorders have occurred. before starting enbrel, your doctor should test you for tuberculosis and discuss whether you've been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. don't start enbrel if you have an infection like the flu. tell your doctor if you're prone to infections, have cuts or sores, have had hepatitis b, have been treated for heart failure, or if, while on enbrel, you experience persistent fever, bruising, bleeding, or paleness. [ phil ] get back to the things that matter most. ask your rheumatologist if enbrel is right for you. [ doctor ] enbrel, the number one biolog medicine prescribed by rheumatologists.
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good sunday afternoon. i'm craig melvin. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. 23 days now until election day. that's when we'll learn who will be the next president. also, two days until the next time president obama and governor romney face off for the next presidential debate. but one influential political writer points out today it's the next eight days which will be critical to whomever wins the white house. it is going to be a wild ride, folks. topping our political headlines, president obama took a break this afternoon from debate prep to visit a local campaign office in williamsburg, virginia. he took some pizzas, shook some hands. he also placed a few phone calls to volunteers around the country to thank them for their help. >> don't forget to dial 1. >> this is old school. >> yeah, so you have to dial 1, area code. >> i remember what this is like.
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>> hi, this is barack obama. can you hear me? well, i wanted to call and say thank you. >> the obama campaign says it has broke an record for presidential campaigns for the number of individual donors. the tally comes to just 4 million people. 4 million folks to bring the total raised by the campaign this election psycycle total to reported $950 million. meanwhile, governor romney off the campaign trail today. he's at his home in massachusetts prepare for tuesday's debate. he and his wife ann did find some time to go to church this morning. governor romney has gained in the polls since that first debate. how will he try to build on that success? peter alexander has been covering the romney campaign, joins me live now from washington, d.c. pete, governor romney got to be a bit more confident going into this second debate. the format is a bit different though. a town hall formal.
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how is he preparing differently? >> it's a good question. we were traveling into boston from ohio with the campaign yesterday. this is about as loose and as confident as we have seen mitt romney throughout the entire cou course of this campaign. there's a sense the crowds are appreciating what he's saying, having witnessed what he did in that first debate with president obama. he faces unique challenges in this next debate on tuesday night outside of new york city at hofstra university. specifically, he will have to speak directly to the voters in the room with them, just a total of 80 voters. while he's done a lot of town halls, the campaign says he has practice at this, he hasn't had a lot of tough questions thrown at him at those town halls. they're generally from people who are there because they support him. i spoke to a top adviser a couple days ago who said among the things they've been focusing on is physically what you do with your body during that conversation. do you look at the president? do you look at the moderator? do you speak directly to the
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vote who ar who is talking to y? obviously it's more challenging than the last debate. among other things, there's no closing argument. the campaign felt really good about mitt romney's closing argument and his two-minute comments throughout the course of the first debate. he won't have that opportunity this debate. >> the romney campaign has had kwie quite the presence in the buckeye state over the past few days. how do they feel about their chances in ohio? >> it's a good question. senator rob portman was on one of the sunday morning shows today. he, of course, is from ohio. he also plays the part of barack obama, the sparring partner to mitt romney during their debate sessions. he said he feels confidently they can still win without ohio, but it's not a risk they want to take right now. you've noted the statistics. no republican has won the white house without winning the state of ohio. jfk was the last president to win the presidency at all without winning ohio. they feel like they're starting to get new support. they have had 12,000, 10,000,
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9,000, 8500 supporters at some of the events. they were there each of the last five days, not including today, with a little hiatus heading off to virginia briefly as well. they feel pretty confidently that they're seeing good numbers in their favor, and they feel strongly that particularly in those republican-leaning counties, if they can get massive turnout there, they think they can do well in the state of ohio. >> peter alexander from our d.c. bureau this sunday afternoon. thank you, sir. president obama prepping for tuesday's debate in williamsburg, virginia. governor romney supporters have popped up just down the street. is this more than just a coincidence? joining me from chicago, brent coleburn. brent, good afternoon to you, sir. >> good afternoon to you, craig. >> before we talk about tuesday's debate, after vice president joe biden's
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performance, is the president doing anything different for the second debate he didn't do the first time around? >> the president is down in williamsburg, home of my alma mater getting ready, getting prepa prepared. he's going to look at the last performance, he's going to look at his performance and how mitt romney did. the one thing i think you're going to see is a candidate who's ready to come in and call mitt romney on his -- as the vice president said, malarky. somebody who's going to make sure the facts are straight. if mitt romney shows up like he did in denver and change what he's selling to the american people and walk away from some of the extreme positions he's had over the last two years, the president is going to call him for it. >> he's going to call him on it? the president is going to be aggressive? as aggressive as joe biden was or aggressive by presidential standards? >> in terms of the president's demeanor, i think folks are just going to have to tune in and see tuesday night. what's important here is what the candidates are say, what the facts are. i think you're starting to see some of the factual inaccuracies mitt romney was pedaling in denver that paul ryan tried to double down on in kentucky.
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they don't know how to answer how they're going to pay for their $5 trillion tax cut. they've been making this claim about the president supposedly taking money out of medicare that every fact checker has said is just not true. they may be getting some short-term gain out of these debates, but over the long term, i think the voters are smart enough to see there's nothing there with these statements. >> all right. before i let you get out of here, we all love big bird. we all grew up with big bird. governor romney said in the first debate he loved big bird as well, although he would cut p b -- pbs's funding. has big bird run its course now? it's led your opponent to say things like this in portsmouth, ohio, yesterday. >> in times like this, what is he talking about? saving big bird. when i'm president, i'm going to help save the american family and get good jobs for every american. >> is it time to leave our
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feathered friend out of this? >> well, look, wii think we nee to take a step back and look at how this all started. this started with mitt romney saying as an answer to a very serious question the voters care about, how about he would pay for his tax cuts. he wanted to cut pbs. we're all for pbs. we appreciate the services they do. it's a great, great program. even if we cut it, we would be light years away from being able to pay for the tax plans he's put on the table. this is like saying i want to buy a new car, and i'm going to pay for it by cancelling my subscription to the sunday paper. the math doesn't add up. he can trivialize this as much as he wants, but until he's straight, it's not a joke. >> let's talk about the criticism the campaign has received with regards to libya, specifically. take a look at what congress issis said today. take a listen.
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>> the fact is they are making a decision not to put security in because they don't want the presence of security. >> any truth to this? how does the president plan to respond when it comes up at tuesday's debate? >> first of all, the state department and all of the folks who work on security around the world, including the president and vice president, have it as their number one goal, keeping our men and women overseas safe. with all do respect to congressman issa, there's an investigation going on to what happened in libya. we're going to get to the bottom of this. if there's lessons to be learned, they're going to apply them. i think the republicans are trying to score cheap political points off this. we need to take a step back in these international situations regardless of party. we need to look at the protocols we have in place and if there's changes that need to be made, make those changes. >> brent, thank you, sir. appreciate your time on this
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sunday. >> thank you. i want to update this breaking news. former senator spector died today. he came into office the same year ronald reagan entered the white house and stayed in office for the next 30 years emerging as one of the leading moderates of the senate. joining me now on the phone, a man who knew arlen specter. first of all, your thoughts today, sir. >> craig, great to be with you. i had the great honor and privilege to serve with arlen in the senate. he was one of those guys who would work to solve problems across party lines. i think we need more of that today. i think his example is something we can all learn from. it was an honor to serve with him. he'll be missed in so many ways. it's a very sad day for our commonwealth and country. >> we've been talking a fair
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amount over the past few hours about what his legacy is going to be. my friend and colleague andrea mitchell mentioned his commitment to medical research. is that going to be his legacy? is it going to be more than that? >> i think that will be a central part of his enduring legacy because no one fought harder for medical research and medical research dollars, including the tremendous work he did to make sure that the national institutes of health had the dollars they needed. of course, he was living proof of the wonderins of medical research in his own life. we're going to miss him sorely in that way and so many other ways. he was also a real fighter for the little guy. he had a great sense of the underdog and who needed to have a voice to speak on their behalf. so we're missing him today and we'll miss him for a long, long time. >> lastly, senator casey, this
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is not something i've heard a lot of folks talk about today or write about. the senator had quite the sense of humor. so much so, in fact, that apparently over the past couple years he launched this stand-up, this sort of stand-up comedy career. >> he did. towards the end of his career, he had a couple of occasions to do some of that. that showed the breadth of his talents. he was very, very smart, as you know, and was a great prosecutor, a great questioner in senate hearings or as a prosecutor. he also had a lighter side, and he was actually pretty funny. sometimes even in washington you need a little levity when times are tough. he was a great example. i learned a lot from him. i came in, he had been there about 25 years. one of the best things he ever said to me, really the first day we sat down to talk, he said, it's important for us to work together, and it's important for
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the people of our state to see us working together. at the time it didn't mean much to me when he said it, but all these years later with all the partisanship, it's a very meaningful lesson. >> senator bob casey of pennsylvania on the late senator arlen specter. thank you so much, senator casey. appreciate your time. want to note here that senator specter leaves behind a wife, two sons, and four grandchildren as well. arlen specter dead today at the age of 82. up next, it all comes down to the next eight days. we'll tell you what the challenges that both campaigns are facing. this is msnbc, the place for politics. ny unstopables in-wash scent boosters, here with my favorite new intern, jimmy. mmm! fresh! and it's been in the closet for 12 weeks! unbelievable! unstopables! i'll show you how! ♪ just shake them into the washer i can't believe this lasts 12 weeks!
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23 days to go and eight days
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until the presidential debates are all over. president obama and governor romney face a truly pivotal week in the race to the white house. joining me now, cnbc's chief washington correspondent, political writer for "the new york times" and an all-around great guy, john harwood. good afternoon. thanks for being with us. >> hey, craig. >> what does the president need to do? what does the governor need to do in this tuesday night debate? >> well, i think governor romney needs to continue what he did in the last debate, which was put an appealing face on the kind of conservatism he and paul ryan are running on. he didn't really change his positions, although some people characterized it that way in the first debate. what he said was he identified with the values behind some of the things that president obama wants to do but says i've got a better way of achieving it, a less expensive way, if you're talking about domestic policy, a way to use the private market on health care. what president obama's got to do is to try to call the romney campaign out in a more effective
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way than he was able to do in denver or that joe biden was able to do with paul ryan last week in danville because joe biden, you know, some of the histrionics got in the way of his message. although, the aggressiveness is what the democrats want to see. >> let's talk about the trail. ohio this weekend, governor romney talking about this growing, his words, crescendo of enthusiasm surrounding his campaign. take a listen. [ cheers and applause ] >> thank you. thank you so much. thank you, everybody. >> all right. so that's clearly not the right piece of sound. that was president obama there in ohio. but governor romney has been talking about a growing crescendo of enthusiasm, john. is that something we think at this point, something that's going to last, or is it going to die down, especially if we see a
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more aggressive president obama at the debate on tuesday? >> well, he experienced something that may have sounded like a crescendo after the first debate in denver. i'm in the sure that's still going on. but, you know, he's got a limited period of time to try to make up the deficit he has in some of the swing states. he's very close to the president. he could be, you know, behind a point or two nationally, maybe ahead a point or two. we get conflicting polls. we know he's behind in some of the battle ground states. he's got a narrower path to 270 electoral votes. we showed in our poll last week he's down six among likely voters in ohio. ohio is the state that his campaign believes it has to win. that's why they're spending so much time and energy there. >> i'm glad you brought that up. senator portman said something, and i want to play this sound for our audience as well. it was something i found very interesting. this is bob portman talking about ohio. take a listen. >> look, you can probably within the presidency without ohio, but
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i wouldn't want to take the risk. no republican has. >> that was from abc this morning. john harwood, can he? can he win without the buckeye state? >> practically speaking, no. is it possible to put together enough electoral votes without the 18 of ohio? orv of course, but he's got to win a bunch of states in that scenario where he's not in an advantageous position. he'd have to win, say, wisconsin and nevada and new hampshire, places like that where president obama's held a lead. it's just not likely. his campaign, mitt romney's campaign has told me they need both florida and ohio to get to 270 electoral votes. i think that as rob portman said, you don't want to take that risk. they're not taking that risk. >> earlier in the bod cast here, we talked about "the wall street journal" story. millions of dollars going to sp here in the final few states on advertising in the key battleground states. but there has not been a great deal of discussion about the
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campaign's respective ground games. talk to me about the air war versus the ground war and who might have a bit of an advantage here if either side does. >> i think, craig, we're getting to the point of the campaign where the ground war is more important than the air war. there's so much information out there in presidential politics that by this time, people are pretty numb to the ads. not saying they have no effect, but it matters more which campaign is able organizationally to identify their voters, get them out. early vote's part of that. president obama has done very well, for example n the early vote in ohio. that's what our poll last week showed. in some other states, iowa, for example, democrats got way out ahead in terms of request for absentee ballots. in a campaign where you have two bases in a closely divided country, the campaign that most effectively figures whout their people are, how to touch them, how to get them out to vote, that may make the difference. >> turnout, turnout, turnout.
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>> exactly. and that's what happened, craig, for george w. bush in 2004. there are a lot of people who see similarities between president obama's situation this year, george w. bush's in 2004. >> so it'll come down to over the next few weeks we'll hear the can dadidates speaking more the base than the 27 undecided voters somewhere in iowa and ohio. >> that's why the president was taking those pizzas into the virginia headquarters. rvel >> john, thank you for your time. coming up, you're never going to believe this. over 1,000 feet up, and he made it. more on his story straight ahead. plus, we're going to tell you about a new program that makes registering to vote for college students as easy as it is for them to sign up for their meal plan. you are watching msnbc. buying this juicer online was unbelievable.
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all right. check this out here. an unbelievable athlete, felix b baumgartn baumgartner. today he broke the highest sky dive record after free falling more than 23 miles from the edge of space. at this point, it's not certain he actually broke the speed of sound, though, which was one of the mission's goals as well. apparently he's doing just fine. he's healthy, too. in today's what's the big idea segment, we look at the efforts to get college students inside the voting booth. every election year voter registration drives get underway on university campuses. this year, there's something different happening. "the new york times" reports that at least 60 colleges across this country, they're getting involved by getting their own students registered without the help of outside groups. for example, last year northwestern university just
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north of chicago started the u-vote project. it allows students to register to vote during their fall orientation. by the time classes started, 89% of the freshman class had already registered to vote. not just in illinois, but in 37 separate states in year, 95% of freshman at northwestern were registered. the program has become so successful, that eight other colleges have picked it up. the goal is to not only increase the number of registered voters, but to help them navigate through the complicated and sometimes wildly controversial voting laws. the deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in libya sure to be a big topic during tuesday's debate. beyond the politics, are we doing enough to keep america's diplomats safe? and are we a nation doomed to be at war? matt welch thinks we need to listen very carefully, very carefully to the candidates who
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preach peace. he's going join our brain trust next. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics and good music as well on a sunday afternoon. ♪ i'd like to thank eating right, whole grain, multigrain cheerios! mom, are those my jeans? [ female announcer ] people who choose more whole grain tend to weigh less than those who don't. multigrain cheerios
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millions of men, forty-five or older, may have low t. so talk to your doctor about low t. hey, michael! [ male announcer ] and step out of the shadows. hi! how are you? [ male announcer ] learn more at isitlowt.com. [ laughs ] hey! breaking news on this sunday afternoon that we continue to track and update. former senator arlen specter of pennsylvania dead today at the age of 82. we found out a short time ago his funeral is set for tuesday. the cause, complications from n n non-hodgkins lymphoma. he established himself as one of the centrists of the senate. he was pro choice. he was also one of the few senators in the gop who voted to repeal "don't ask, don't tell."
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probably most famous for switching parties in 2009 to become a democrat. questions about security and intelligence failures that preceded the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi continue to pile up on the obama administration after a tense house hearing thursday. the senate will now begin their own investigation into the attack. joining me now is the former state department officer and former deputy director of the national security network. joel, glad to have you here. vice president biden criticized for saying he did not know u.s. officials in benghazi had even asked for more support. today, delaware attorney general beau biden coming to his father's defense. >> he was speaking for himself and the president, as you heard jay carney tell you in the briefing room the other day. >> do you think the average
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voters understands the difference between the state department knowing about those requests and the white house knowing? >> i think the average voter will understand this as this is communicated publicly, and it needs to be communicated. what can't happen is that there becomes a sense that this went to the president's desk. the president does not approve every request for funding for security at our consulates and our embassies overseas. certainly, the administration has been handling this catastrophe as well as one could possibly hope for. it's a fluid situation. it's moving fast. clearly, the testimony last week by the state department did show that this was a state department call, and in the days ahead, that's how it should be per sooefd. >> in a briefing saturday, secretary of state hillary clinton said something a bit disconcerting. take a listen. >> we will never prevent every act of violence or terrorism or achieve perfect security.
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our people cannot live in bunkers and do their jobs. >> are we serving our diplomats well? are we protecting them adequately? >> this is the core challenge every day for the state department. more ambassadors have been killed than generals in the field. that's a known discussion at state. there are really three core elements to security. there's the physical plant, the actual buildings and infrastructure at which the embassy resides. there's the regional security officers and the support they have of contractors and military for security. then there's also the agreements with the host countries and looking to host countries to ultimately guarantee the security for our diplomats overseas. we have to juxtapose this against getting out in the field. diplomats need to know the people of these countries. they need to have contact. that's what chris stevens was so good at. that's a bipartisan initiative as well. secretary rice in the bush
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administration, secretary clinton now have made a heavy emphasis on ensuring american diplomats get to know the people in these countries that also, unfortunately, creates risks. >> joel, great to have your insights. appreciate your time on this sunday afternoon. >> thank you. >> so how will our place in the world play out over the next 23 days and over the next four years? i want to bring in the brain trust here. the deputy editor for center for american progress. also, the deputy editor for thinkprogress.org. joy reid, managing editor and msnbc contributor. matt welch, editor and chief of "reason" magazine. we've become a big fan of matt's. we're glad he could come back in on this sunday. pick up your checks at the door. i want to start with you. i want to start with this article you wrote. we're going to use this as a launching point. very interesting. this is the november issue of
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"reason" magazine. basically, i don't think we're going to put a snippet up, but you argue, given our current interventions in foreign conflicts, it probably wouldn't have mattered who was elected four years ago. so should voters even be paying that much attention to what governor romney, what president obama say on foreign policy? >> you don't want america to be engaging and starting yet another middle eastern war. you don't have a choice in this election for the major party candidates. >> will we ever have a choice again? will there ever be a pacifist president? >> not a pass vcifispacifist, b
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says where depending on what flavor you have, you're going to robustly go into the field and defend american interests or prevent genocide from happening in the city. we are an interventionist country. there is no center of the anti-interventionist world. this is part of the reason why. we can't afford the government we have now. there's a huge target on america's back. there will be for the foreseeable future. >> i think i disagree slightly. it's true we have sort of an almost reflex for intervention in this country in terms of military. i think one of the big differences between barack obama and george w. bush, who, by the way, a lot of his oadvisers are with mitt romney, is this sense of nation building. barack obama has tried to dial that back and has allowed more on special forces or supporting ground swells for overthrowing their own dictators in the
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middle east. >> you're right. we haven't gone the full scale invasion. >> which is a good thing. >> that is an important difference. >> it's really a key contrast. i think we can all agree that romney isn't a guy who spends a lot of time thinking about foreign policy. so, yes, he surrounded himself with these bush folks. they're the ones who are going to pull them and pull them and pull them to the right if he's e elected. that's a real problem. if the last eight years taught us anything, we can't keep going down this road. you ask romney a question about iran, he gives you different answers on the red line. he doesn't know his own policy. the people who inform his policy, i think, are the folks who got us into a lot of the problems that we're seeing today. >> is there a great deal of daylight between the two candidates with regards to foreign policy? >> look at vice presidential debate when they were arguing, squabbling heavily about iran and afghanistan. their actual positions were
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almost inseparable. both sides say we will not tolerate iran becoming a nuclear power and will do whatever it takes. both sides said basically we're going to get troops out of afghanistan in 2014. it's a matter of style more than substance. >> i think there's a significant difference. if you listen to the neocon factions swirling around mitt romney, you hear him talking about this group as if they are somebody we should be arming in iran. you actually hear people that claim to be credible on foreign policy saying we should become a lot more active in that group's attempts to oppose the regime in iran. that's scary to me. >> we got to take a quick break. you guys are going to stick around. when we come back, we'll pick up some of this. we also want to fast forward to 2016. we're wondering if this week, perhaps, a star was born. we'll talk about all of that and lots more on the other side of this break. don't go anywhere, folks. ♪
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we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. are there inklings on of 2016 on the 2012 campaign trail? thursday's debate has a lot of folks thinking ahead to 2016. "washington post" today writing that since thursday's debate, the romney campaign has been pushing paul ryan on to center stage in part to capitalize on the momentum from the debate. but, quote, the campaign is also drawing attention to the unique roll ryan playing in the mod dern conservative movement.
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what is paul ryan's rise within the republican party signal today? >> i think before ryan joined the ticket, he had this reputation of being a wonky guy, someone who gave a lot more specifics than your typical republican. since he's now the vp candidate, he's in this trap where he's stuck by the rhetoric and kind of entrapped by romney's inability to give any specifics. it's a problem that the ryan budget also suffers from. so i think, look, if he loses this fight, he goes back to washington, d.c., but you have this budget tarnished by the lack of specifics, and you have him reduced to a severe partisan, which is what he's like on the campaign trail if you listen to him. so i think he's going to have some problems kind of reclaiming some of that wonky-ish policy. >> do you think so?
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if the romney/ryan ticket fails, you think he's going to have a hard time watching the partisanship off him? >> his star rose in 2009, 2010 as the tea party was going up, as the republican grassroots started focusing on fiscal problems, long-term entitlement programs. those are the areas paul ryan has been the best for the party nationally. him being named vice president nominee was a gesture more than it was an embrace of that. mitt romney did not win the nomination based on embracing those policies. to the contrary, he won the nomination by kind of running away from them. he made the gesture of paul ryan. yes, ryan will continue to be popular, but igor is right. he's having to swallow the fact that he is using -- he's campaigning romney's vision, not his own. that will, perhaps, dull the tarnish and open up a space for someone like senator rand paul, who it doesn't come with all of
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ryan/romney's hawkishness. >> but can someone like rand paul, can the senator from kentucky, moderate voters still control this? >> i don't think so. i think rand paul is still sort of something people don't know too much specifics about him. they just know in general, and they know his dad. with paul ryan, i think a lot of his star role is with the media. the media loves the fact he seems like a policy wonk. it gave him this glow. they've exposed the fact he's actually quite extreme, particularly on issues involving women's health. it's exposed him as being a far right christian conservative on the one hand. also, it's exposed holes in his budget wonkiness that he can't his get numbers to add up. >> jump in, igor. >> now that we're having a
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national conversation about the specifics and details, medicare, the women's issues, how do you give wealthy people trillions in tax cuts and pay for it? you pay for it by going to the middle class, of course. now that you have the details, those details, they don't poll well. they don't sit well with the american people. it's a real problem. it's a problem rand paul is also going to have, which i think is these guys may have big ideas, and yes, the media loves them, but you get down to the details. once the people hear the policy specifics, they really turn away. >> especially when it comes to things like medicare and social security. when you start talking about some of the numbers on that, it de does not sit well with the great vote. i want to talk about your piece. we've been talking about paul ryan. joe biden, you wrote, reenergized the base a bit on thursday. >> they've had this pent-up demand for three or four years to see the democratic president fight hard, push back against the republicans, tell them
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they're lying and push back in their face. it's not in obama's nature to do it, but it sure as heck isn't joe biden's nature to do it. i think biden really provided a lot of energy the base needed. it's about democrats feeling like they don't have that same sort of aggressiveness that republicans have. they want it. joe biden really provides it. >> matt, do you think we see that on tuesday, or do you think that it's not in the president's nature, that the president represents a wing of the party that is sort of above some of that. >> you know, if the president comes out acting like joe biden, it's going to look a little clownish. joe biden, you know, he rallies both bases, as we were saying before. the democrats get riled up and the republicans say, my god, this guy is in charge of anything? no, i don't think obama is going to go there. i think he is going to hit these concepts of facts. you're wrong, your tax policy
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doesn't add up, you're flip-f p flip-flopping. i think he's going to be more aggressive about that. i think the interesting thing is to see if romney comes back at him and say, really, you're going to give me the facts matter speech after this benghazi nightmare. >> i want to ask about another figure on the campaign trail. bill clinton. he has been out stumping for the president and for some down ballot candidates as well. is he doing this out of the kindness of his heart, or is he, as many suspect, laying the groundwork for candidate hillary clinton in 2016? >> well, look, i think president clinton certainly wants to see president obama re-elected. he believes in his policies and loves this country. he wants it to move in a progressive direction. he also doesn't really want to be blamed if there's a perception that the president loses that he somehow didn't do enough. i think that's really driving this as well. >> you dodged my hillary clinton
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question. is she running or not? >> well, look, i don't know what he's going to do. i think the people close to her don't know what she's going to do. i think she's going to take some time off and maybe reach a decision a bit later. >> we're going to go to break here. before we do that, the language has changed because there was a time when it was, i don't know. then it seemed as if maybe a month ago we heard, well, we're going to wait. i mean, most people have acknowledged if the president wins re-election, she won't be back as secretary of state. what do you think? >> craig, she would be crazy not to run. that is an open door. if barack obama is re-elected, hillary clinton will be the odds-on favorite. i can't think of who could beat her if she did not take that opportunity, i think that she would be missing an historic opportunity. >> if hillary clinton runs in 2016 and the fellow we just talked about joe biden decides,
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i want to run for president for the 12th time -- >> i don't think they'd run against each other. they're close friends. i doubt they'd challenged one another. >> i think the country would laugh biden off the stage. hillary is a star on that bench. >> and the republicans have jeb bush. >> we'll leave it there. up next, the brain trust looks into their personal crystal balls, and they're going to write next week's headlines today. what will they be saying the day after the second presidential debate? they've got it figured out. they're going to share their insight on the other side of this break. we'll be back in three. ah. fire bad! just have to fire roast these tomatoes. this is going to give you a head start on your dinner. that seems easier [ female announcer ] new progresso recipe starters. five delicious cooking sauces you combine with fresh ingredients to make amazing home-cooked meals.
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the brain trust is back. we're going to get to them in a second. this is the guy we want to update you on. felix baumgartner, there he is. apparently he did it, folks. mach 1.24, we're told.
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that meant nothing to me, so we crunched some numbers. 833.9 miles per hour. that makes him the first human being to travel faster than the speed of sound without being inside some type of craft. he did it from 128,000 feet above sea level. someone chatted with him right after. this is what he managed to get out. quote, it's hard to describe because i didn't feel it. it was like being in a cast. that was apparently his post-fall interview. we'll update you on felix tomorrow here on msnbc. here's the brain trust. thanks so much. igor, give us that headline, give us that prediction for the day after the presidential debate in new york. >> i think what we're going to see it "obama exposes suddenly centrist mitt as a severe conservative." >> that's the longest headline i have ever seen. >> oh, i'll make it fit.
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look, this is a guy who was running in the primaries labeled himself on staged a severe conservati conservative. his policies certainly follow suit. the guy who showed up on that first presidential debate was someone who suddenly backed away from his tax plan, is in favor of covering pre-existing conditions. >> joy, 30 seconds. >> we're going to say "did he do enough?" did barack obama do enough? the structural forces in this campaign still favor obama. did he do enough to stabilize it? >> nice picture there, by the way. >> i appreciate it. >> if you guys had a daily operation -- >> we're online. got tons of stuff coming up. "facts did matter afterall." i like that because it works no matter who wins. if obama fact checks the hell out of mitt romney, facts did matter. if romney punches back and says, what's going on in benghazi, what's going on with biden's
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explanati explanation, that will reflect on the president. >> that was a pretty picture of you as well. thank you all so much. i do appreciate your time. we'll be back here next weekend. we'll do it on saturday at 2:00 eastern live here on msnbc, the place for politics. have a fantastic sunday afternoon. [ male announcer ] behold the joy, bliss and total delight that can only come from having someone else pay your mortgage for an entire year... this is what you'll experience if you win the quicken loans skip-a-year mortgage sweepstakes. up to five winners will get to skip a year of mortgage payments... courtesy of quicken loans. enter often at skipayear.com for more chances to experience...this... the skip-a-year mortgage sweepstakes. one more way quicken loans is engineered to amaze!
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MSNBC Live
MSNBC October 14, 2012 12:00pm-2:00pm PDT

News/Business. Live news coverage, breaking news and current news events with host Thomas Roberts. New.

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